Book to Boogie is a monthly series that pairs picture books with dance and movement activities for preschool story time. The series is curated by Kerry Aradhya of Picture Books & Pirouettes and written by a different guest writer each month. We hope that children’s librarians, as well as classroom teachers and dance educators, will find these activities useful and fun!

by Jayne Gammons

Curl Up CoverDo you ever feel like curling up in a ball? Or maybe jumping as high as you can? Either way, you and your little listeners are sure to connect with the feelings of the toddler-like wombat in Sometimes I Like to Curl up in a Ball by Vicki Churchill and Charles Fuge.

In this charmingly illustrated book, the wombat and his woodland friends spend the day doing some of their favorite things, such as jumping, walking around, falling down, and just standing still. Along with all the romping and rolling, there’s rhyming as well. The simple rhyming phrases are easy for little ones to listen to, repeat, and understand. In much the same way, the simple movements are easy for young movers to watch, mimic, and enjoy.

Begin your story time by simply asking the children, “Have you ever wanted to curl up in a ball?” Go ahead. Let them wrap their arms around their legs and curl up into balls. Next explore the feelings that would make someone want to curl up so small that no one could see him or her, like the wombat wants to do in the beginning of the book.

Continue this exploration of emotions with a picture walk through the book. Invite the children to look carefully at the wombat’s facial expressions on each spread. Also consider the expressions of his companions. What feelings and situations would make them want to move the different ways they move in the book?

After you’ve used the illustrations to infer the animals’ feelings, invite listeners to connect to the text through movement. Help the children find their own space. As you read each rhyming phrase, allow the children to copy the wombat’s actions. Help them describe his movements. Where are his arms? Do his legs go in the same direction every time? When is his body up high? When is it down low?

As you read, the children can:

  • Curl up in a ball
  • Jump high
  • Walk round and round
  • Fall down
  • Stand still
  • Make funny faces
  • “Play” in mud
  • Run fast
  • Curl up in a ball and “sleep”

If you feel like reading another book that connects emotions with movements, try Sometimes I Feel Like a Mouse: A Book about Feelings by Jeanne Modessitt and Robin Spowart. Another good pairing is with Quick as a Cricket by Audrey and Don Wood.

Jayne.Headshot.Nov2014Jayne Gammons is a kindergarten teacher, blogger, and workshop presenter. When she is not busy dancing, singing, and reading with kids, she likes to curl up in a ball. You can find more of her ideas for integrating the arts with books at her blog, ABCS of Reading: Integrating the ARTS with BOOKS to teach COMPREHENSION strategies. 

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